Monday, February 23, 2015

What on earth is a sand worm and why are they in my feet?

Wandering through a shopping mall the other day i came across the usual stores offering massages and foot  treatments. Nothing unusual here, however, in the past when I was living in china, we use to get a foot treatment where the ladies would almost shave of part to your foot.

Weird huh? But as you sit there and a pile of shavings appears on the floor all of which used to be on your feet it is quite amazing the amount of rubbish that comes off your feet.

The human psyche is rather strange that we love all manner of disgusting things when they are OFF our bodies, there is a self gratifying part of us that acknowledges the "better out than in" principle.

After spending several weeks backpacking through Asia, it is a delight to have this foot treatment in China. Your feet go from cracked horrible things which you slide into bed with only to discover to your horror that you can't get the bed sheets up because of them gripping onto your rough underside of what is loosely referred to as your feet into some sexy sleek thing that just slides between the sheets like satin, leaving you murmuring "Oh Yeah".

*A footnote to this is, that whilst you can find these tools cheaply around, it is NEVER a good idea to locate these harmless looking pieces of equipment and try to do this yourself. How do I know this, hmmm I think you can figure that one out, my endeavours resulted in reasonably large sections of my foot going missing and resulting in me being unable to walk for three weeks. yes, it looks easy enough, trust me, these ladies are definitely well trained in what they are doing.

So i have now spent 8 weeks in Bali in monsoons, primarily wearing plastic shoes and walking through mud. 

My feet could do with a bit of this chinese treatment to say the least. I have been to several spa centres in bali however their pedicure tends to revolve around toenail polish rather than the foot treatments I was searching for. So you can imagine my interest as I walked past this set up in the shopping centre with a promise to make your feet shiny and sleek again.

As I stopped and watched the lady having her feet done, she looked at me and said " You really must get this done - it is wonderful, these ladies are fantastic and your feet will feel terrific afterwards".

I think I really just heard "sexy feet".

This is all the lady needed to grab me and say "Come lady, I will give you a sample - come come, your feet look terrible - let me look at them and I will tell you how much it is going to cost you to have them treated.

Rather than using the tool which shaves the skin off your feet, in Bali (maybe they are just sensible or maybe there were a few tourist feet accidents, but they really don't seem to use them here), they tend to use a rough paddle, somewhat like a nail file.

Brushing away madly at my foot, after a couple of moments the pile of dead foot shavings that appeared on the towel was enough to convince me that perhaps I really did need to get this done.

In what can only be described as a theatrical dramatisation, the lady clucked over my feet and called in her colleague who also shook her head and looked gravely at the soles of my feet announcing "tsk tsk - you have sand worms". 

What ?? - sandworms ??
You can imagine the horrified look on my face as my eyes opened wide - asking what on earth are those and how did they get in my feet?

"Never mind", the lady replied, telling me it is very common - most people have them, she explained they were like a bacteria caused by the wet floors and proudly announced for 100,000 rupiah ($10) and 30 minutes of my time she could remove them all.

Shock tactics or otherwise - I was convinced, get them out immediately - 30 minutes later and my feet are looking all brand, shiny new. They certainly felt a lot better and she proudly announced all of the sand worms are gone, there is nothing more I need to do.

Which leaves me wondering perhaps the term sandworm simply means cracks in your feet, either way I am relieved that they are no longer there. *Sheesh I feel like a bit of a scare tactics sucker here and mildly convince myself it doesn't matter, my feet are now soft and smooth regardless of such worms.

So you might think that my foot treatment ended there, well, why not, my feet are shiny looking, as soft as a baby's bottom and all the sand worms are gone.
Of course that would be the western way of thinking.

In typical Balinese fashion she now realises that she may be able to get another treatment out of me.
I love the way they appeal to your senses of "Oh you have 2 children, you must be very tired mother, you must have so much to do, your legs must be so tired all the time, I bet your back aches, oh you are a writer, you must have shoulder problems, I can fix all of this for you with a 30 minute foot and leg massage with reflexology.
Only 50,000 rupiah ($5) Madam".
"Let me give you a 5 minute free sample just to tell you that I can see what is going on with in your body".
Ok why not.

5 minutes into the treatment she certainly found all of the sore spots and whether you believe in reflexology or not all of the points that actually hurt were the parts of my body that I had been having problems with.
All problems accurately diagnosed, she asks "would you like me to fix these problems for you - yes, come?
Of course I'm going to say yes at this point as she has located everything that I am suffering from.

With a speed adept only to a balinese woman on the verge of a new sale, she whisks the lotions and creams out of the bucket next to her and throw the towel on her lap, lifting my legs up quicker than I can say "Righto".

Over the next 30 mins she prods and pokes and makes my eyes roll back in my head as she finds every part of me that has ever been hurt.

Digging into the back of my ankle she announces, you must have been suffering from headaches lately?
Well yes as a matter of fact, I have had them for a couple of days and have not been able to get rid of them.
She knowingly nods and says "Relax I will fix it for you".
Oh my god I think my eyes are going to fall out of my head, my head is rolling backwards and I tell her it is intensely painful.
She nods and says "Yes painful for now, but headache gone soon".

5 minutes further in, I say to her "I am not sure if we are friends anymore", she says "I know but we will be good friends later when you feel better".

Thus we spend the 30 minutes bantering backwards and forwards and I gently fade in and out of consciousness during the course of our conversation.

Amazingly the sports that cause the most pain did eventually feel better and stop hurting.
What about the headaches? Actually they are gone today.
Sore back and shoulder? Also gone today and as for my feet, yes I slipped into bed as if I was sleeping in satin sheets.

Was it worth it?
Certainly seems so at this stage.
All up it cost 150000 rupiah (Around AUD$15), it took just over 1 hour and you can find this woman on the second floor at Carrefour supermarket near Kuta.

Have you had a similar experience?

I would love to hear about your experiences by having you add them in the comments box below.

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